OPINION: Landscapers misses the mark as a black comedy which isn't funny and makes light of a callous double murder
Just before Landscapers was released, Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin summed it up best when he said that ‘we should never forget that the people at the centre of this human tragedy were shot in their own bed and buried in their own back garden’.
And that is the fundamental reason why the new Olivia Colman drama really doesn’t work.
It glamorises the two killers, Susan and Christopher Edwards, and tries to make them likeable . . . and they’re really not.
They were dull, they were insular and they were, put simply, cold-blooded killers who went out of their way to profit from their crimes and to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes.
And they pulled it off for 15 years. They were devious and conniving to the extreme.
Having read many of the national reviews, which largely give it a five-star rating, I really wasn’t sure I was watching the same drama.
With all the hype, with the star quality of Colman and her co-star David Thewlis, for me there is an element of ‘The Emperor's New Clothes’ going on.
With her reputation for brilliance, for turning everything she appears in into gold - then how can Landscapers be so utterly lousy?
Thewlis, who plays Chrstopher Edwards, recently described the drama as the best and most exciting project he’d been involved with in years. Really?
I spent 25 days sitting about six feet from the real Christopher and Susan Edwards, as I covered every minute of their murder trial - and I think it’s fair to say that I know their personalities better than most.
Neither Colman or Thewlis are anywhere near the real villains - she seems to have pulled her ‘likeable if rather dizzy’ stock character off the shelf for Susan, while Thewlis’ portrayal of Christopher seems too animated, too confident.
In terms of factual accuracy, most of it is pretty much what happened, at least so far - although the entire cast apart from the Edwards and their victims, William and Partricia Wycherley, are fictionalised.
In my book about the case - A Garden of Bones: Blood Runs Thicker - I had to fictionalise one detective in order to protect the many police sources who spoke to me about that side of the investigation . . . not an entire department.
The investigation is portrayed as bundling to some extent, the lead detective somewhat out of his depth.
In reality, the police investigation was exemplary - run by one of the most gifted and dedicated police officers I have ever met. If I were him, I’d be utterly fuming.
It’s also pitched as a black comedy . . . and it really isn’t funny. And it’s about the murders of two elderly people by those closest to them. That shouldn’t ever be the source of comedy.
I will watch the rest of Landscapers to see how it pans out - it’s a case that has been a huge part of my professional life, and I hope it gets better.
Perhaps if the writer, Colman’s husband Ed Sinclair, had taken the time to speak to those directly involved at the time - rather than basing the whole drama on stories written by your Chad and other titles - Landscapers would be nearer to the mark.